Got a somewhat late start on this hike (10:30-something), and later paid for it with an exhausting wallow up soft spring snow. The road to the Doughnut Falls trailhead was gated shut, forcing us to walk from the parking area at the Big Cottonwood Canyon road. Numerous groups of people were making their way up the Mill D South road, presumably on their way to the popular Doughnut Falls, but we left the crowds behind after taking the dirt road which departs from the main trail and leads to the North Route trail up Kessler Peak. The North Route trail leaves the dirt road approximately 0.5 miles from the official Doughnut Falls trailhead, and is quite difficult to locate unless you know where to look. Fortunately Shelley was paying attention (I was not) so we didn't miss it on this hike. The trail contoured through the forest as it headed around the steep north slopes of Kessler Peak. Initially the trail was dry and easy to follow, but as we quickly gained elevation patches of snow began to appear, and we soon lost the trail as the snow became continuous. We continued contouring westward up the north slopes of the peak, eventually reaching the huge bare avalanche path which drops over 2000 vertical feet from the summit ridge down to near the Big Cottonwood Canyon road. The normal summer hiking trail continues westward from this area, but with the snow fairly consolidated we elected to turn and head south up the east boundary of the slide path. Initially the going was easy up the moderate slope, but the angle slowly increased and the snow softened until we were slogging up steep mush, occasionally sinking in up to our waist. The last 100 feet up to the summit ridge seemed to take forever, and we were exceedingly glad to finally reach the bare rock of the north-east ridge leading to the summit, now only a few hundred yards away. The ridge scramble to the summit was enjoyable on the solid rock, and included several exciting spots of 4th class scrambling with major exposure off the east face of the peak before leveling off as we neared the summit. The views from the summit of Kessler Peak are excellent in all directions, and we took our time eating and checking things out with binoculars. Several huge glide avalanches which had recently slid from the upper flanks of Broads Fork Twin Peaks were especially impressive. No one had signed the summit register since October 2003, and I was surprised at how few hikers had visited this summit relative to some of the more popular Wasatch peaks. Which is a shame because this is actually a rather fun and easy peak to climb, with great views of Big Cottonwood Canyon. We elected to descend along the ridge leading south from the summit, initially dropping onto the steep west slopes before climbing back up to regain the ridge about 75 yards south of the summit. We then proceeded along the ridge another few hundred feet before beginning a series of long glissades down the east slopes. The snow was quite soft from the warm day, which helped keep our speed in check as we slid. By the time we reached the snow covered road at the bottom of Mill D South, our butts were frozen to the point of numbness from all the seated glissades, but it was worth the pain considering the easy descent of 2000+ feet in only a matter of minutes. We headed north back towards our vehicle on the Big Cottonwood Canyon road, passing several groups making the short hike to/from Doughnut Falls.
View this trip report with photos here
No comments posted yet.